SlideShare utilise les cookies pour améliorer les fonctionnalités et les performances, et également pour vous montrer des publicités pertinentes. Si vous continuez à naviguer sur ce site, vous acceptez l’utilisation de cookies. Consultez nos Conditions d’utilisation et notre Politique de confidentialité.
SlideShare utilise les cookies pour améliorer les fonctionnalités et les performances, et également pour vous montrer des publicités pertinentes. Si vous continuez à naviguer sur ce site, vous acceptez l’utilisation de cookies. Consultez notre Politique de confidentialité et nos Conditions d’utilisation pour en savoir plus.
Clinical anatomy ‘Thorax’
(Snell & KLM)
Dr M Idris Siddiqui
A cervical rib occurs in approximately 0.5% of persons.
It arises from the transverse process of the seventh
cervical vertebra. It may have a free anterior end,
may be connected to the first rib by a fibrous band, or
may articulate with the first rib.
• It also may cause pressure on the lower trunk of
the brachial plexus or the subclavian artery, leading
to symptoms and signs that are referred to as the
thoracic outlet syndrome.
Role of Costal Cartilages
Costal cartilages prolong the ribs
anteriorly and contribute to the
elasticity of the thoracic wall,
preventing many blows from
fracturing the sternum and/or ribs. In
elderly people, the costal cartilages
undergo calcification, making them
radiopaque and less resilient.
The weakest part of a rib is just anterior to
its angle. Rib fractures commonly result
from direct blows or indirectly from
The middle ribs are most commonly
fractured. Direct violence may fracture a
rib anywhere, and its broken ends may
injure internal organs such as a lung or
Flail chest occurs when a sizable segment of the
anterior and/or lateral thoracic wall moves freely
because of multiple rib fractures. This condition
allows the loose segment of the wall to move
paradoxically (inward on inspiration and outward
on expiration). Flail chest is an extremely painful
injury and impairs ventilation, thereby affecting
oxygenation of the blood.
During treatment, the loose segment is often fixed by
hooks and/or wires so that it cannot move.
People usually have 12 ribs on each side, but the number
may be increased by the presence of cervical and/or
lumbar ribs or decreased by failure of the 12th pair to
form. Cervical ribs (present in up to 1% of people)
articulate with the C7 vertebra and are clinically
significant because they may compress spinal nerves C8
and T1 or the inferior trunk of the brachial plexus
supplying the upper limb. Tingling and numbness may
occur along the medial border of the forearm. They
may also compress the subclavian artery, resulting in
ischemic muscle pain (caused by poor blood supply) in
the upper limb. Lumbar ribs are less common than
cervical ribs, but have clinical significance in that they
may confuse the identification of vertebral levels in
Sternal fractures are not common, but crush injuries
can occur during traumatic compression of the
thoracic wall (e.g., in automobile accidents when
the driver's chest is driven into the steering
column). When the body of the sternum is
fractured, it is usually a comminuted fracture
(broken into several pieces).
The most common site of sternal fractures is the
sternal angle, resulting in dislocation of the
manubriosternal joint. In sternal injuries the
concern is for the likelihood of heart and pulmonary
To gain access to the thoracic cavity for
surgical procedures—on the heart and
great vessels, for example—the sternum
is divided (“split”) in the median plane
and retracted (spread apart).
After surgery, the halves of the sternum
are reunited and held together with wire
The sternal body is often used for bone marrow
needle biopsy because of its breadth and
subcutaneous position. The needle pierces
the thin cortical bone and enters the vascular
trabecular (spongy) bone.
Sternal biopsy is commonly used to obtain
specimens of bone marrow for
transplantation and for detection of
Paralysis of Diaphragm
One can detect paralysis of the diaphragm
radiographically by noting its paradoxical
movement. Paralysis of half of the diaphragm
because of injury to its motor supply from the
phrenic nerve does not affect the other half because
each dome has a separate nerve supply.
Instead of descending on inspiration, the paralyzed
dome is pushed superiorly by the abdominal
viscera that are being compressed by the active
side. The paralyzed dome descends during
expiration as it is pushed down by the positive
pressure in the lungs
Thoracotomy, Intercostal Space Incisions
The surgical creation of an opening through the thoracic wall
to enter a pleural cavity is called a thoracotomy. An
anterior thoracotomy may involve making H-shaped cuts
through the perichondrium of one or more costal
cartilages and then shelling out segments of costal
cartilage to gain entrance to the thoracic cavity.
The posterolateral aspects of the fifth to seventh intercostal
spaces are important sites for posterior thoracotomy
incisions. In general, a lateral approach is most satisfactory
for entry through the thoracic cage . With the patient lying
on the contralateral side, the upper limb is fully abducted,
placing the forearm beside the patient's head. This
elevates and laterally rotates the inferior angle of scapula,
allowing access as high as the fourth intercostal space.
• Surgeons use an H-shaped incision to incise the
superficial aspect of the periosteum that ensheaths
the rib, strip the periosteum from the rib, and then
remove a wide segment of the rib to gain better
access, as might be required to enter the thoracic
cavity and remove a lung (pneumonectomy), for
• In the rib's absence, entry into the thoracic cavity can
be made through the deep aspect of the periosteal
sheath, sparing the adjacent intercostal muscles. After
the operation, the missing pieces of ribs regenerate
from the intact periosteum, although imperfectly.
THORACIC OUTLET SYNDROMES
The brachial plexus of nerves (C5, 6, 7,
8, and T1) and the subclavian artery
and vein are closely related to the
upper surface of the first rib and the
clavicle as they enter the upper limb.
It is here that the nerves or blood
vessels may be compressed between
Thoracic Out let Syndrome
When clinicians refer to the superior thoracic
aperture as the thoracic “outlet,” they are
emphasizing the important nerves and arteries
that pass through this aperture into the lower neck
and upper limb. Hence various types of thoracic
outlet syndromes exist, such as the costoclavicular
syndrome—pallor and coldness of the skin of the
upper limb and diminished radial pulse resulting
from compression of the subclavian artery
between the clavicle and the first rib, particularly
when the angle between the neck and the
shoulder is increased.
Dislocation of Ribs
A rib dislocation ( slipping rib syndrome) or dislocation
of a sternocostal joint is the displacement of a costal
cartilage from the sternum. This causes severe pain,
particularly during deep respiratory movements. The
injury produces a lump-like deformity at the
dislocation site. Rib dislocations are common in body
contact sports, and possible complications are
pressure on or damage to nearby nerves, vessels, and
A rib separation refers to dislocation of a costochondral
junction between the rib and its costal cartilage. In
separations of the third through tenth ribs, tearing of
the perichondrium and periosteum usually occurs. As
a result, the rib may move superiorly, overriding the
rib above and causing pain.
STERNAL ANGLE AS AN IMPORTANT
CLINICAL BONY LANDMARK
The position of the sternal angle that is, the
angle between the manubrium sterni and
the body of the sternum can be easily felt
and is often seen as a transverse ridge.
It lies at the level of the second costal cartilage
and second rib. All other ribs and costal
cartilages can be counted from this point.
A needle thoracostomy is necessary for
patients with tension pneumothorax or
with a large hemothorax.
The purpose is to remove the air or blood
to allow the lung to reexpand. The needle
should be kept close to the upper border
of the rib to avoid injuring the intercostal
vessels and nerve in the subcostal
PENETRATING INJURIES OF THE
Any penetrating wound to the chest below
the level of the nipples should be
suspected of causing damage to the
diaphragm until proved otherwise.
The arching domes of the diaphragm can
reach the level of the fifth rib (the right
dome can reach a higher level).
SKIN INNERVATION OF
THE CHESTWALL AND DISEASE
Above the level of the sternal angle, the nerve supply to the skin of the
anterior chest wall and shoulder region is derived from the
supraclavicular nerves (C3 and 4). Referred pain from the
gallbladder can be felt on the point of the shoulder by way of these
nerves (see p. 56). Below the level of the sternal angle, the anterior
and lateral cutaneous branches of the intercostal nerves supply
oblique bands of skin (dermatomes) in regular sequence. Since the
seventh to the eleventh intercostal nerves also supply dermatomes
on the anterior abdominal wall, muscles of the anterior abdominal
wall, and parietal peritoneum, this fact becomes of great clinical
Disease in the thoracic wall may be revealed as pain in a dermatome
that extends across the chest wall into the abdominal wall.
For the anatomical location and
description of pathology (e.g., cysts
and tumors), the breast is divided
into four quadrants.
The axillary tail is an extension of the
mammary gland of the superolateral
Changes in Breasts
Changes, such as branching of the lactiferous ducts, occur
in the breast tissues during the menstrual cycle and
pregnancy. Although mammary glands are prepared for
secretion by midpregnancy, they do not produce milk
until shortly after the baby is born.
Colostrum, a creamy white to yellowish premilk fluid, may
secrete from the nipples during the last trimester
of pregnancy and during initial episodes of nursing.
Colostrum is believed to be especially rich in protein,
immune agents, and a growth factor affecting the
infant's intestines. In multiparous women (those who
have given birth two or more times), the breasts often
become large and pendulous. The
breasts in elderly women are usually small because of
the decrease in fat and the atrophy of glandular tissue.
Carcinoma of Breast
Understanding the lymphatic drainage of the breasts is of practical importance in predicting the
metastasis (dispersal) of cancer cells from a carcinoma of the breast (breast cancer).
Carcinomas of the breast are malignant tumors, usually adenocarcinomas arising from the
epithelial cells of the lactiferous ducts in the mammary gland lobules. Metastatic cancer cells
that enter a lymphatic vessel usually pass through two or three groups of lymph nodes
before entering the venous system.
Breast cancer can spread via lymphatics and veins and as well as by direct invasion.Interference
with the lymphatic drainage by cancer may cause lymphedema (edema, excess fluid in the
subcutaneous tissue), which in turn may result in deviation of the nipple and a thickened,
leatherlike appearance of the skin . Prominent or “puffy” skin between dimpled pores gives
it an orange-peel appearance (peau d'orange sign). Larger dimples (fingertip size or bigger)
result from cancerous invasion of the glandular tissue and fibrosis (fibrous degeneration),
which causes shortening or places traction on the suspensory ligaments.
Subareolar breast cancer may cause inversion of the nipple by a similar mechanism involving the
lactiferous ducts. Breast cancer typically spreads by means of lymphatic vessels
(lymphogenic metastasis), which carry cancer cells from the breast to the lymph nodes,
chiefly those in the axilla. The cells lodge in the nodes, producing nests of tumor cells
(metastases). Abundant communications among lymphatic pathways and among axillary,
cervical, and parasternal nodes may also cause metastases from the breast to develop in the
supraclavicular lymph nodes, the opposite breast, or the abdomen.
Carcinoma of Breast
• Because most of the lymphatic drainage of the breast is to the axillary
lymph nodes, they are the most common site of metastasis from a breast
cancer. Enlargement of these palpable nodes suggests the possibility of
breast cancer and may be key to early detection.
• However, the absence of enlarged axillary lymph nodes is no guarantee that
metastasis from a breast cancer has not occurred because the malignant
cells may have passed to other nodes, such as the infraclavicular and
supraclavicular lymph nodes.
• Nodal metastatic breast cancer can be difficult to manage because of the
complex system of lymphatic drainage. The posterior intercostal veins drain
into the azygos/hemiazygos system of veins alongside the bodies of the
vertebrae and communicate with the internal vertebral venous plexus
surrounding the spinal cord.
• Cancer cells can also spread from the breast by these venous routes to the
vertebrae and from there to the cranium and brain. Cancer also spreads by
contiguity (invasion of adjacent tissue). When breast cancer cells invade the
retromammary space, attach to or invade the pectoral fascia overlying the
pectoralis major, or metastasize to the interpectoral nodes, the breast
elevates when the muscle contracts. This movement is a clinical sign of
advanced cancer of the breast.
Radiographic examination of the breasts,
mammography, is one of the techniques used to
detect breast masses.
A carcinoma appears as a large, jagged density in
the mammogram. The skin is thickened over the
tumor . The lower leader points to the nipple,
which is depressed in the mammogram.
Surgeons use mammography as a guide when
removing breast tumors, cysts, and abscesses.
Surgical Incisions of Breast
Incisions are placed in the inferior breast quadrants when
possible because these quadrants are less vascular
than the superior ones. The transition between the
thoracic wall and breast is most abrupt inferiorly,
producing a line, crease, or deep skin fold—the inferior
Incisions made along this crease will be least evident and
may actually be hidden by overlap of the breast.
Incisions that must be made near the areola or on the
breast itself are usually directed radially to either side
of the nipple (Langer tension lines run transversely
here) or circumferentially.
Mastectomy (breast excision) is not as common as it once
was as a treatment for breast cancer.
In simple mastectomy, the breast is removed down to the
retromammary space. Radical mastectomy, a more
extensive surgical procedure, involves removal of the
breast, pectoral muscles, fat, fascia, and as many lymph
nodes as possible in the axilla and pectoral region. In
current practice, often only the tumor and surrounding
tissues are removed—a lumpectomy or quadrantectomy
(known as breast-conserving surgery, a wide local
excision)— followed by radiation therapy
Herpes Zoster Infection
• Herpes zoster ( shingles)—a viral disease of
spinal ganglia—is a dermatomally
distributed skin lesion. The herpes virus
invades a spinal ganglion and is transported
along the axon to the skin, where it produces
an infection that causes a sharp burning pain
in the dermatome supplied by the involved
nerve. A few days later, the skin of the
dermatome becomes red and vesicular
When people with respiratory problems such
as asthma or emphysema or with heart
failure struggle to breathe, they use their
accessory respiratory muscles to assist the
expansion of their thoracic cavities. They
typically lean on a table or their thighs to fix
their pectoral girdles (clavicles and scapulae)
so the muscles are able to act on their rib
attachments and expand the thorax
Intercostal Nerve Block
Local anesthesia of an intercostal space is produced by
injecting a local anesthetic agent around the
intercostal nerves. This procedure, an intercostal nerve
block, involves infiltration of the anesthetic around the
intercostal nerve and its collateral branches. Because
any particular area of skin usually receives innervation
from two adjacent nerves, considerable overlapping of
contiguous dermatomes occurs.
Therefore, complete loss of sensation usually does not
occur unless two or more intercostal nerves in
adjacent intercostal spaces are anesthetized.
CORONARY HEART DISEASE AND
THE INTERCOSTOBRACHIAL NERVE
In coronary heart disease pain is
often referred along the
intercostobrachial nerve to the
medial side of the arm.
DEFLECTION OF THEMEDIASTINUM
In the living, the mediastinum is very mobile. If
air should enter the pleural cavity as the
result of chest trauma or lung disease, the
lung on that side collapses and the
mediastinum is displaced to the opposite
side. Thus on physical examination the
trachea and heart are found to be displaced
to the opposite side.
INHALED FOREIGN BODIES
• Because the right bronchus is wider
and more direct continuation of the
trachea, foreign bodies tend to enter
the right instead of the left bronchus.
• From there they usually pass into the
middle or lower lobe bronchi.
• As the result of disease or injury,
air can enter the pleural cavity
from the lungs or through the
chest wall; this condition is
known as pneumothorax
PAIN AND LUNG DISEASE
Lung tissue and the visceral pleura are
insensitive to pain (supplied by autonomic
nerves and devoid of pain-sensitive nerve
endings). Once lung disease crosses the
pleural cavity to involve the parietal pleura,
pain becomes a prominent feature (supplied
by intercostal and phrenic nerves with pain-
sensitive nerve endings).
The heart makes two sounds: lu¯b, and du˘ p. The first
sound is produced by the contraction of the ventricles
and the closure of the tricuspid and the mitral valves.
The second, shorter sound is produced by the sharp
closure of the aortic and the pulmonary valves.
The tricuspid valve is best heard over the right half of
the lower end of the body of the sternum.
The mitral valve is best heard over the apex beat (i.e., at
the level of the fifth left intercostal space,
approximately 3.5 in. [9 cm] from the midline).
The pulmonary valve is best heard over the medial end
of the second left intercostal space.
The aortic valve is best heard over the medial end
of the second right intercostal space.
FAILURE OF THE CONDUCTING
SYSTEM OF THE HEART
The atrioventricular bundle is the only route by
which the cardiac impulse can spread from the
atria to the ventricles. Failure of the bundle to
conduct the normal impulses results in alteration
in the rhythmic contraction of the ventricles or, if
complete bundle block occurs, complete
dissociation between the atria and the ventricular
rates of contraction.
CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE
Although the coronary arteries have numerous
anastomoses at the arteriolar level, they are
essentially functional end arteries. A sudden
block of one of the large branches of either
coronary artery will usually lead to necrosis
of the cardiac muscle in the vasculararea,
and often the patient dies
Pain originating in the heart as the result of ischemia results in
the stimulation of the sensory nerve endings in the
myocardium. The afferent nerve fibers ascend to the central
nervous system via the sympathetic trunk and enter the
spinal cord through the upper four thoracic nerves.
The pain varies considerably, from a severe crushing pain to
nothing more than a mild discomfort. The pain is not felt in
the heart but is referred to the skin areas supplied by the
corresponding spinal nerves.
The skin areas supplied by the upper four intercostal nerves
and by the intercostobrachial nerve (T2) are therefore
Atrial Septal Defect
In 25% of individuals, the foramen ovale
does not completely close. When the
opening is small, it has no clinical
Occasionally, however, the opening is large,
and this results in oxygenated blood from
the left atrium passing into the right
Ventricular Septal Defects
The ventricular septum is normally formed by
fusion of the small, membranous upper part
with the larger,lower muscular part.
Ventricular septal defects occur in the
membranous part of the septum.
Oxygenated blood passes through the defect
from left to right, causing enlargement of the
Tetralogy of Fallot
The following four defects occur with tetralogy of
• Large ventricular septal defeat.
• Stenosis of the pulmonary trunk.
• Exit of the aorta from the heart immediately
above the ventricular septal defect.
• Hypertrophy of the right ventricle (because of the
resulting high blood pressure in that ventricle).
Patent Ductus Arteriosus
Normally, the ductus arteriosus has closed
by the end of the first month after birth.
Failure of the ductus arteriosus to close
results in aortic blood passing into the
pulmonary artery, which then raises the
pressure in the pulmonary circulation and
causes hypertrophy of the right ventricle
Coarctation of the Aorta
Coarctation of the aorta is a narrowing of the aorta
just proximal, opposite, or distal to the site of
Attachment of the ligamentum arteriosum.
It arises after birth and is thought to result from the
Contraction of ductus arteriosus muscle tissue that
Has been incorporated in the wall of the aorta.
When The ductus arteriosus contracts normally, the
aortic Wall also contracts, and the aortic lumen
narrows. Later fibrosis causes permanent narrowing.
AZYGOS VEINS AND CAVAL
In obstruction of the superior or
inferior venae cavae, the azygos
veins provide an alternative
pathway for the return of venous
blood to the right atrium of the
LOWER THIRD OF ESOPHAGUS AS SITE OF
At the lower third of the esophagus, the tributaries of
the azygos veins (systemic circulation) anastomose
with the left gastric vein, a tributary of the portal vein.
Should the portal vein become obstructed, the veins
at the site of the portosystemic anastomosis become
dilated and varicosed as the result of the increased
flow of blood.
This pathologic change is an attempt to return the
portal blood to the systemic circulation without going
through the normal obstructed channel through the
Surface Anatomy of Thoracic Wall
Several bony landmarks and imaginary lines facilitate anatomical descriptions,
identification of thoracic areas, and location of lesions such as a bullet wound:
• Anterior median (midsternal) line indicates the intersection of the median plane
with the Anterior thoracic wall. Midclavicular lines pass through the midpoints of
the clavicles, Parallel to the anterior median line .
• Anterior axillary line runs vertically along the anterior axillary fold, which is
formed by the border of the pectoralis major as it spans from the thorax to the
humerus (arm bone).
• Midaxillary line runs from the apex (deepest part) of the axilla, parallel to the
anterior Axillary line.
• Posterior axillary line, also parallel to the anterior axillary line, is drawn vertically
along the posterior axillary fold formed by the latissimus dorsi and teres major
muscles as they span from the back to the humerus.
• Posterior median (midvertebral) line is a vertical line at the intersection of the
median plane With the vertebral column.
• Scapular lines are parallel to the posterior median line and cross the inferior
angles of the scapulae
Additional lines (not illustrated) are extrapolated along borders of bony
the parasternal line (G. para, adjacent to).
The clavicles lie subcutaneously, forming bony ridges at the junction of the
thorax and neck. They can be palpated easily throughout their length,
especially where their medial ends articulate with the manubrium.
The sternum also lies subcutaneously in the anterior median line and is
palpable throughout its length.
The manubrium of the sternum: Lies at the level of the bodies of T3 and T4
vertebrae is anterior to the arch of the aorta Has a jugular notch that can
be palpated between the prominent sternal ends of the clavicles
It has a sternal angle where it articulates with the sternal body at the level
of the T4 -T5 IV disc and the space between the third and fourth spinous
Surface Anatomy of Thoracic Wall
Surface Anatomy of Thoracic Wall
The sternal angle is a palpable landmark that lies at the level of the second pair of costal
cartilages. The main bronchi pass inferolaterally from the bifurcation of the trachea at the
level of the sternal angle. The sternal angle also demarcates the division between the
superior and inferior mediastina and the beginning of the arch of the aorta. The superior
vena cava passes inferiorly deep to the manubrium, projecting as much as a
fingerbreadth to the right of this bone.
The first rib cannot be palpated because it lies deep to the clavicle; thus count the ribs and
intercostal spaces anteriorly by sliding the fingers laterally from the sternal angle onto
the second costal cartilage. Start counting with rib 2 and count the ribs and spaces by
moving the fingers inferolaterally. The first intercostal space is inferior to the first rib;
likewise, the other spaces lie inferior to the similarly numbered ribs.
The body of the sternum lies anterior to the right border of the heart and vertebrae T5-T9.
The xiphoid process lies in a slight depression ( the epigast ric fossa) where the
converging costal margins form the infrasternal angle. The costal margins, formed by the
medial borders of the seventh through tenth costal cartilages, are easily palpable where
they extend inferolaterally from the xiphisternal joint . This articulation, often seen as a
ridge, is at the level of the inferior border of the T9 vertebra.
If a sufficient amount of air enters the pleural cavity,
the surface tension adhering visceral to parietal
pleura (lung to thoracic wall) is broken, and the lung
collapses because of its inherent elasticity (elastic
recoil). When a lung collapses, the pleural cavity—
normally a potential space, purple)—becomes a real
space. The pleural cavity is located between the
parietal pleura (blue) and the visceral pleura (red).
One lung may be collapsed after surgery, for
example, without collapsing the other because the
pleural sacs are separate.
Hemothorax, and Chylothorax
Entry of air into the pleural cavity—pneumothorax —resulting from a
penetrating wound of the parietal pleura or rupture of a lung from a
bullet, for example, results in partial collapse of the lung. Fractured
ribs may also tear the parietal pleura and produce pneumothorax.
This may also occur as a result of leakage from the lung through an
opening in the visceral pleura.
The accumulation of a significant amount of fluid in the pleural cavity
—hydrothorax—may result from pleural effusion (escape of fluid into
the pleural cavity). With a chest wound, blood may also enter the
pleural cavity (hemothorax); this condition results more often from
injury to a major intercostal vessel than from laceration of a lung.
Lymph from a torn thoracic duct may also enter the pleural cavity
(chylothorax). Chyle is a pale white or yellow lymph fluid in the
thoracic duct containing fat absorbed by the intestines
During inspiration and expiration, the normally moist,
smooth pleurae make no sound detectable by
auscultation (listening to breath sounds); however,
inflammation of the pleurae—pleuritis (pleurisy)—
makes the lung surfaces rough. The resulting friction
(pleural rub) may be heard with a stethoscope.
Acute pleuritis is marked by sharp, stabbing pain,
especially on exertion, such as climbing stairs, when
the rate and depth of respiration may be increased
Variation in Lobes of Lungs
• Occasionally, an extra fissure divides a lung or a
fissure is absent. For example, the left lung
sometimes has three lobes and the right lung only
two. The most common “accessory” lobe is the
azygos lobe, which appears in the right lung in
approximately 1% of people. In these cases, the
azygos vein arches over the apex of the right
lung and not over the right hilum, isolating the
medial part of the apex as an azygos lobe.
• Sometimes it is necessary to insert a
hypodermic needle through an
intercostal space into the pleural cavity to
obtain a sample of pleural fluid or to
remove blood or pus. To avoid damage to
the intercostal nerve and vessels, the
needle is inserted superior to the rib,
high enough to avoid the collateral
Auscultation and Percussion of Lungs
Auscultation of the lungs (assessing air flow through the
tracheobronchial tree into the lung with a stethoscope) and
percussion of the lungs (tapping the chest over the lungs with
the finger) always includes the root of the neck to detect sounds
in the apices of the lungs.
Percussion helps establish whether the underlying tissues are air-
filled (resonant sound), fluid-filled (dull sound), or solid (flat
sound). When physicians refer to the base of a lung, they are
usually not referring to its diaphragmatic surface (base); rather,
they are referring to the inferior part of the posterior costal
surface of the inferior lobe. To auscultate this area, physicians
apply a stethoscope to the inferoposterior aspect of the thoracic
wall at the level of the T10 vertebra.
Aspiration of Foreign Bodies
Because the right bronchus is wider and shorter
and runs more vertically than the left ronchus,
aspirated foreign bodies are more likely to
enter and lodge in it or one of its branches. A
potential hazard encountered by dentists is an
aspirated foreign body, such as a piece of
tooth or filling material. Such objects are also
most likely to enter the right main bronchus.
Knowledge of the anatomy of the bronchopulmonary segments
is essential for precise interpretations of diagnostic images of
the lungs and for surgical resection (removal) of diseased
segments. When resecting a
bronchopulmonary segment, surgeons follow the interlobar
veins to pass between the segments. Bronchial and
pulmonary disorders such as tumors or abscesses (collections
of pus) often localize in a bronchopulmonary segment, which
may be surgically resected. During the treatment of lung
cancer, the surgeon may remove a whole lung
(pneumonectomy), a lobe (lobectomy), or one or more
bronchopulmonary segments (segmentectomy). Knowledge
and understanding of the bronchopulmonary segments and
their relationship to the bronchial tree are also essential for
planning drainage and clearance techniques used in physical
therapy for enhancing drainage from specific areas (e.g., in
patients with pneumonia or cystic fibrosis).
Injury to Pleurae
The visceral pleura is insensitive to pain because its innervation
is autonomic (motor and visceral afferent). The autonomic
nerves reach the visceral pleura in company with the
bronchial vessels. The visceral pleura receives no nerves of
In contrast, the parietal pleura is sensitive to pain, particularly
the costal pleura, because it is richly supplied by branches of
the somatic intercostal and phrenic nerves. Irritation of the
parietal pleura produces local pain and referred pain to the
areas sharing innervation by the same segments of the spinal
cord. Irritation of the costal and peripheral parts of the
diaphragmatic pleura results in local pain and referred pain
along the intercostal nerves to the thoracic and abdominal
walls. Irritation of the mediastinal and central diaphragmatic
areas of the parietal pleura results in pain that is referred to
the root of the neck and over the shoulder (C3-C5
Thoracoscopy is a diagnostic and sometimes
therapeutic procedure in which the pleural
cavity is examined with a thoracoscope.
Small incisions are made into the pleural
cavity via an intercostal space. In addition
to observation, biopsies can be taken and
some thoracic conditions can be treated
(e.g., disrupting adhesions or removing
Obstruction of a pulmonary artery by a blood clot (embolus) is a
common cause of morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death). An
embolus in a pulmonary artery forms when a blood clot, fat globule,
or air bubble travels in the blood to the lungs from a leg vein. The
embolus passes through the right side of the heart to a lung through
a pulmonary artery. The embolus may block a pulmonary artery—
pulmonary embolism—or one of its branches. The immediate result is
partial or complete obstruction of blood flow to the lung. The
obstruction results in a sector of lung that is ventilated but not
perfused with blood. When a large embolus occludes a
pulmonary artery, the person suffers acute respiratory distress
because of a major decrease in the oxygenation of blood owing to
blockage of blood flow through the lung. A medium-size embolus
may block an artery supplying a bronchopulmonary segment,
producing a pulmonary infarct, an area of necrotic (dead) lung tissue.
Inhalation of Carbon Particles
• Lymph from the lungs carries phagocytes,
cells possessing the property of ingesting
carbon particles from inspired air. In
many people, especially cigarette
smokers, these particles color the surface
of the lungs and associated lymph nodes
a mottled gray to black. Smokers' cough
results from inhalation of irritants in
Bronchogenic carcinoma is a common type of lung cancer
that arises from the epithelium of the bronchial tree.
Lung cancer is mainly caused by cigarette smoking.
Bronchogenic carcinoma usually metastasizes widely
because of the arrangement of the lymphatics. The
tumor cells probably enter the systemic circulation by
invading the wall of a sinusoid or venule in the lung and
are transported through the pulmonary veins, left
heart, and aorta to all parts of the body, especially the
cranium and brain.
When examining the bronchi with a bronchoscope —
an endoscope for inspecting the interior of the
tracheobronchial tree for diagnostic purposes—one
can observe a ridge, the carina, between the
orifices of the main bronchi . The carina is a
cartilaginous projection of the last tracheal ring. If
the tracheobronchial lymph nodes in the angle
between the main bronchi are enlarged because
cancer cells have metastasized from a bronchogenic
carcinoma, for example, the carina is distorted,
widened posteriorly, and immobile.
Surgical Significance of Transverse
The transverse pericardial sinus is especially important to
cardiac surgeons. After the pericardial sac has been opened
anteriorly, a finger can be passed through the transverse
pericardial sinus posterior to the aorta and pulmonary trunk.
By passing a surgical clamp or placing a ligature around these
vessels, inserting the tubes of a coronary bypass machine,
and then tightening the ligature, surgeons can stop or divert
the circulation of blood in these large arteries while
performing cardiac surgery, such as coronary artery bypass
grafting. Cardiac surgery is performed while the patient is on
Pericarditis and Pericardial Effusion
Inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis) usually
causes chest pain. Normally, the layers of serous
pericardium make no detectable sound during
auscultation. However, pericarditis makes the surfaces
rough and the resulting friction, pericardial friction rub,
sounds like the rustle of silk when listening with a
Certain inflammatory diseases may also produce
pericardial effusion (passage of fluid from the
pericardial capillaries into the pericardial cavity). As a
result, the heart becomes compressed (unable to
expand and fill fully) and ineffectual.
Cardiac tamponade (heart compression) is a potentially lethal
condition because the fibrous pericardium is tough and inelastic.
Consequently, heart volume is increasingly compromised by the
fluid outside the heart but inside the pericardial cavity. When
there is a slow increase in the size of the heart, cardiomegaly, the
pericardium allows the enlargement of the heart to occur without
compression. Stab wounds that pierce the heart, causing blood to
enter the pericardial cavity (hemopericardium), also risk producing
cardiac tamponade. Hemopericardium may also result from
perforation of a weakened area of heart muscle after a heart
attack. As blood accumulates, the heart is compressed and
Pericardiocentesis (drainage of serous fluid from pericardial cavity) is
usually necessary to relieve the cardiac tamponade. To remove the
excess fluid, a wide-bore needle may be inserted through the left
fifth or sixth intercostal space near the sternum.
Levels of Viscera in Mediastinum
The level of the viscera relative to the mediastinal
subdivisions depends on the position of the person.
When a person is lying supine, the level of the viscera
relative to the subdivisions of the mediastinum is as
shown in the figures in this text. Anatomical
descriptions traditionally describe the level of the
viscera as if the person were supine. However, in the
standing position, the levels of the viscera are as shown
in Figure B1.12. This occurs because the soft structures
in the mediastinum, the heart and great vessels, and
the abdominal viscera supporting them sag inferiorly
under the influence of gravity. This movement of
mediastinal structures must be considered during
physical and radiological examinations.
Percussion of Heart
Percussion defines the density and size of the heart. The
classic percussion technique is to create vibration by
tapping the chest with a finger while listening and
feeling for differences in sound wave conduction.
Percussion is performed at the third, fourth, and fifth
intercostal spaces from the left anterior axillary line to
the right anterior axillary line. Normally the
percussion note changes from resonance to dullness
(because of the presence of the heart) approximately
6 cm lateral to the left border of the sternum. The
character of the sound changes as different areas of
the chest are tapped.
Atrial and Ventricular Septal Defects
Congenital anomalies of the interatrial septum —usually related to incomplete
closure of the oval foramen—are atrial septal defects or ASDs. A probe-size
patency (defect) appears in the superior part of the oval fossa in 15% to 25%
of people. These small ASDs, by themselves, are usually of no clinical
significance; however, large ASDs allow oxygenated blood from the lungs to
be shunted from the left atrium through the defect into the right atrium,
causing enlargement of the right atrium and ventricle and dilation of the
The membranous part of the IV septum develops separately from the muscular
part and has a complex embryological origin. Consequently, this part is the
common site of ventricular septal defects or VSDs . These congenital
anomalies rank first on all lists of cardiac defects. Isolated VSDs account for
approximately 25% of all forms of congenital heart disease (Moore &
Persaud, 2008). The size of the defect varies from 1 to 25 mm. A VSD causes
a left-toright shunt of blood through the defect. A large shunt increases
pulmonary blood flow, which causes pulmonary disease (hypertension, or
increased blood pressure) and may cause cardiac failure.
Thrombi (clots) form on the walls of the left atrium in
certain types of heart disease. If these thrombi
detach or if pieces break off, they pass into the
systemic circulation and occlude peripheral arteries.
Occlusion of an artery in the brain results in a stroke
or cerebrovascular accident (CVA), which may
affect, for example, vision, cognition, or sensory or
motor function of parts of the body previously
controlled by the now-damaged area of the brain.
Valvular Heart Disease
Disorders involving the valves of the heart disturb the pumping efficiency of
the heart. Valvular heart disease produces either stenosis (narrowing) or
insufficiency. Stenosis is the failure of a valve to open fully, slowing
blood flow from a chamber. Valvular insufficiency or regurgitat ion, on the
other hand, is failure of the valve to close completely, usually owing to
nodule formation on (or scarring and contraction of) the cusps so that
the edges do not meet or align. This allows a variable amount of blood
(depending on the severity) to flow back into the chamber it was just
ejected from. Both stenosis and insufficiency result in an increased orkload
for the heart. Restriction of high-pressure blood flow (stenosis) and passage
of blood through a narrow opening into a larger vessel or chamber (stenosis
and regurgitation) produce turbulence. Turbulence sets up eddies (small
whirlpools) that produce vibrations that are audible as murmurs. Superficial
vibratory sensations—thrills—may be felt on the skin over an area of
Because valvular diseases are mechanical problems,
damaged or defective cardiac valves are often
replaced surgically in a procedure called
valvuloplasty. Most commonly, artificial valve
prostheses made of synthetic materials are used in
these valve replacement procedures, but
xenografted valves (valves transplanted from
other species, such as pigs) are also used.
A prolapsed mitral valve is an insufficient or incompetent valve
in which one or both leaflets are enlarged, redundant or
“floppy,” and extending back into the left atrium during
systole. As a result, blood regurgitates into the left atrium
when the left ventricle contracts, producing a characteristic
Aortic valve stenosis is the most frequent valve abnormality and
results in left ventricular hypertrophy. The great majority of
cases of aortic stenosis result from degenerative calcification.
In pulmonary valve stenosis (narrowing), the valve cusps are
fused, forming a dome with a narrow central opening. In
infundibular pulmonary stenosis, the conus arteriosus is
underdeveloped, producing a restriction of right ventricular
outflow. The degree of hypertrophy of the right ventricle is
Coronary Artery Disease or Coronary
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is one of
the leading causes of death. It has
many causes, all of which result in a
reduced blood supply to the vital
With sudden occlusion of a major artery by an embolus
(G. embolos, plug), the region of myocardium supplied
by the occluded vessel becomes infarcted (rendered
virtually bloodless) and undergoes necrosis
(pathological tissue death). The three most common
sites of coronary artery occlusion are (1) the anterior IV
(LAD) branch of the LCA (40-50%), (2) the RCA (30-
40%), and (3) the circumflex branch of the LCA (15-
An area of myocardium that has undergone necrosis
constitutes a myocardial infarct ion (MI). The most
common cause of ischemic heart disease is coronary
artery insufficiency resulting from atherosclerosis.
The atherosclerot ic process, characterized by
lipid deposits in the intima (lining layer) of
the coronary arteries, begins during early
adulthood and slowly results in stenosis of the
lumina of the arteries. Insufficiency of blood
supply to the heart (myocardial ischemia)
may result in MI.
Coronary Bypass Graft
Patients with obstruction of their coronary circulation and severe angina
may undergo a coronary bypass graft operation. A segment of an
artery or vein is connected to the ascending aorta or to the proximal
part of a coronary artery and then to the coronary artery distal to the
stenosis . The great saphenous vein is commonly harvested for
coronary bypass surgery because it (1) has a diameter equal to or
greater than that of the coronary arteries, (2) can be easily dissected
from the lower limb, (3) and offers relatively lengthy portions with a
minimum occurrence of valves or branching. Reversal of the
implanted segment of vein can negate the effect of a valve if a valved
segment must be used. Use of the radial artery in bypass surgery has
become increasingly more common. A coronary bypass graft shunts
blood from the aorta to a stenotic coronary artery to increase the
flow distal to the obstruction. Revascularization of the myocardium
may also be achieved by surgically anastomosing an internal thoracic
artery with a coronary artery.
In selected patients, surgeons use percutaneous transluminal
coronary angioplasty, in which they pass a catheter with a
small inflatable balloon attached to its tip into the
obstructed coronary artery.
When the catheter reaches the obstruction, the balloon is
inflated, flattening the atherosclerotic plaque against
the vessel's wall, and the vessel is stretched to increase the
size of the lumen, thus improving blood flow. In other
cases, thrombokinase is injected through the catheter; this
enzyme dissolves the blood clot. After dilation of the
vessel, an intravascular stent may be introduced to
maintain the dilation.
Variations of Coronary Arteries
Variations in the branching patterns of the coronary arteries are
common. In the most common right-dominant pattern, the RCA
and LCA share approximately equally in the blood supply to the
heart. In approximately 15% of hearts, the LCA is dominant in that
the posterior IV branch is a branch of the circumflex artery. There
is codominance in about 18% of people, in which branches of both
the RCA and LCA reach the crux and give rise to branches that
course in or near the posterior IV groove. A few people have only a
single coronary artery. In other people, the circumflex artery arises
from the right aortic sinus. The branches of coronary arteries are
considered to be end arteries—ones that supply regions of the
myocardium without functional overlap from other large
branches. However, anastomoses exist between small branches of
the coronary arteries. The potential for development of collateral
circulation likely exists in most hearts.
Echocardiography (ultrasonic cardiography) is a method of
graphically recording the position and motion of the heart
by the echo obtained from beams of ultrasonic waves
directed through the thorax. This technique may detect as
little as 20 mL of fluid in the pericardial cavity, such as that
resulting from pericardial effusion. Doppler
echocardiography is a technique that demonstrates and
records the flow of blood through the heart and great
vessels by Doppler ultrasonography, making it especially
useful In the diagnosis and analysis of problems with
blood flow through the heart, such as septal defects, and
in delineating valvular stenosis and regurgitation,
especially on the left side of the heart.
Cardiac Referred Pain
The heart is insensitive to touch, cutting, cold, and heat; however, ischemia
and the accumulation of metabolic products stimulate pain endings in the
myocardium. The afferent pain fibers run centrally in the middle and
inferior cervical branches and especially in the thoracic cardiac branches of
the sympathetic trunk. The axons of these primary sensory neurons enter
spinal cord segments T1-T4 or T5, especially on the left side. Cardiac
referred pain is a phenomenon whereby noxious stimuli originating in the
heart are perceived by the person as pain arising from a superficial part of
the body—the skin on the medial aspect of the left upper limb, for
example. Visceral pain is transmitted by visceral afferent fibers
accompanying sympathetic fibers and is typically referred to somatic
structures or areas such as the upper limb having afferent fibers with cell
bodies in the same spinal ganglion, and central processes that enter the
spinal cord through the same posterior roots.
Injury to Conducting System of Heart
Damage to the conducting system, often resulting from
ischemia caused by coronary artery disease, produces
disturbances of cardiac muscle contraction. Because the
anterior IV branch (LAD branch) supplies the AV bundle in
most people and because branches of the RCA supply both
the SA and the AV nodes, parts of the conducting system of
the heart are likely to be affected by their occlusion. Damage
to the AV node or bundle results in a heart block because the
atrial excitation does not reach the ventricles. As a result, the
ventricles begin to contract independently at their own rate
(25 to 30 times per minute), which is slower than the lowest
normal rate of 40 to 45 times per minute. Damage to one of
the bundle branches results in a bundle branch block, in
which excitation passes along the unaffected branch and
causes a normally timed systole of that ventricle only. The
impulse then spreads to the other ventricle, producing a late
Laceration of Thoracic Duct
• Because the thoracic duct is thin-walled and
may be colorless, it may not be easily
identified. Consequently, it is vulnerable to
inadvertent injury during investigative and/or
surgical procedures in the posterior
• Laceration of the thoracic duct results in chyle
escaping into the thoracic cavity. Chyle may
also enter the pleural cavity, producing
Collateral Venous Routes to Heart
The azygos, hemiazygos, and accessory hemiazygos veins offer
alternate means of venous drainage from the thoracic,
abdominal, and back regions when obstruction of the IVC
occurs. In some people, an accessory azygos vein parallels the
main azygos vein on the right side. Other people have no
hemiazygos system of veins. A clinically important variation,
although uncommon, is when the azygos system receives all the
blood from the IVC, except that from the liver. In these people,
the azygos system drains nearly all the blood inferior to the
diaphragm, except from the digestive tract. When obstruction of
the SVC occurs superior to the entrance of the azygos vein, blood
can drain inferiorly into the veins of the abdominal wall and
return to the right atrium through the IVC and azygos system of
Aneurysm of Ascending Aorta
The distal part of the ascending aorta receives a strong
thrust of blood when the left ventricle contracts.
Because its wall is not yet reinforced by fibrous
pericardium (the fibrous pericardium blends with the
aortic adventitia at the beginning of the arch), an
aneurysm (localized dilation) may develop. An aortic
aneurysm is evident on a chest film (radiograph of the
thorax) or a magnetic resonance angiogram as an
enlarged area of the ascending aorta silhouette.
Individuals with an aneurysm usually complain of chest
pain that radiates to the back. The aneurysm may exert
pressure on the trachea, esophagus, and recurrent
laryngeal nerve, causing difficulty in breathing and
Injury to Recurrent Laryngeal Nerves
The recurrent laryngeal nerves supply all the intrinsic
muscles of the larynx, except one. Consequently, any
investigative procedure or disease process in the
superior mediastinum may involve these nerves and
affect the voice. Because the left recurrent laryngeal
nerve hooks around the arch of the aorta and ascends
between the trachea and the esophagus, it may be
involved when there is a bronchial or esophageal
carcinoma, enlargement of mediastinal lymph nodes,
or an aneurysm of the arch of the aorta. In the latter
condition, the nerve may be stretched by the dilated
arch of the aorta.
Variat ions of Great Arteries
The most superior part of the arch of the aorta is usually
approximately 2.5 cm inferior to the superior border of the
manubrium, but it may be more superior or inferior. Sometimes
the arch curves over the root of the right lung and passes inferiorly
on the right side, forming a right arch of the aorta. Less
frequently, a double arch of the aorta or ret roesophageal right
subclavian artery form a vascular ring around the esophagus and
trachea. If the trachea is compressed enough to affect breathing,
surgical division of the vascular ring may be needed.
Variations in the origin of the branches of the arch are fairly
common. The usual pattern of branches of the arch of the aorta is
present in approximately 65% of people. In approximately 27% of
people, the left common carotid artery originates from the
brachiocephalic trunk. A brachiocephalic trunk fails to form in
approximately 2.5% of people; in these cases each of the four
arteries (right and left common carotid and subclavian arteries)
originate independently from the arch of the aorta (Bergman et
Coarctation of Aorta
• In coarctat ion of the aorta, the arch of the aorta
or descending aorta has an abnormal narrowing
(stenosis) that diminishes the caliber of the aortic
lumen, producing an obstruction to blood flow to
the inferior part of the body. The most common
site for a coarctation is near the ligamentum
arteriosum. When the coarctation is inferior to this
site (postductal coarctation), a good collateral
circulation usually develops between the proximal
and distal parts of the aorta through the intercostal
and internal thoracic arteries.
Age Changes in Thymus
The thymus is a prominent feature of the superior
mediastinum during infancy and childhood. In
some infants, the thymus may compress the
trachea. The thymus plays an important role in the
development and maintenance of the immune
As puberty is reached, the thymus begins to
diminish in relative size. By adulthood, it is usually
replaced by adipose tissue and is often scarcely
recognizable; however, it continues to produce T